Tutorial: Jena Semantic Web Framework

sizzledgooseSoftware and s/w Development

Nov 3, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)


Tutorial: Jena Semantic Web Framework
Today I was poking around the Jena RDF Framework
, mostly to figure out how one would use
an OWL reasoner there.
The Data
My test ontology is fairly simple:
@prefix xsd: <http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#> .
@prefix : <http://www.whatever.com/#> .
@prefix rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#> .
@prefix rdf: <http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#> .
@prefix owl: <http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#> .

a owl:Class .

a owl:Class .

a owl:Class ;
rdfs:subClassOf :Opus .

a owl:Class ;
rdfs:subClassOf :Painting .

a owl:ObjectProperty .

a owl:ObjectProperty ;
rdfs:subPropertyOf :hasCreated .

a owl:Class ;
rdfs:subClassOf :Person ;
[ a owl:Restriction ;
owl:onProperty :hasCreated ;
owl:someValuesFrom :MasterPiece
] .
class I only defined to force the reasoner to classify everything into it which is
firstly an instance of
and then also anything which also
. To
make it a bit harder on the inferencer, all instance data is using
as specialization of
a :Person ;
:hasPainted :TheOldMill ;
:hasPainted :SunFlowers .

a :MasterPiece .

a :Painting .
Obviously, the
is also an instance of
and since it is a
expected the inferencer to tell me that
is a
Inspecting an Ontology
Since I am completely new to Jena (and also new to the boring language
), I thought it would be
wiser to start with simple tests, such as loading the ontology first and then trying to inspect it:
import java.util.*;
import com.hp.hpl.jena.ontology.*;
import com.hp.hpl.jena.rdf.model.*;
import com.hp.hpl.jena.util.*;
OntModel onto = ModelFactory.createOntologyModel(
OntModelSpec.OWL_MEM, null );
With that I created first a completely empty ontology object, one which sits in memory (so it
does not persist), and also one which does not include any cleverness in terms of inferencing.
That is exactly what the
recipe within the
After creating it, Jena would allow me to add classes and property definitions via code, but it is
clearly more comfortable to take it from a document:
onto.read( "file:art.n3", "N3" );
Jena treats this
object not only as ontology, but also as an RDF model, which it clearly is.
In this sense I could use all the model methods
for introspection. In addition to these there are
also methods which convey the ontology aspect, as for instance

import com.hp.hpl.jena.util.iterator.Filter;
i = onto.listHierarchyRootClasses()
.filterDrop( new Filter() {
public boolean accept( Object
o ) {
return ((Resource) o).isAnon();
}} );

while (i.hasNext()) {
While this iterator business looks a bit arcane (in Perl this would be all one single line), it seems
to be the Java way to

extract the list of all top-level classes (those which are directly subclasses of
), and

filter out those which are anonymous classes.
Here I simply chose to output what I found.
It took me some reading to figure out how I could get hold of the object for a particular OWL
class. The scary monster
static final String
artNS = "http://www.whatever.com/#";
OntClass opus = (OntClass) onto.getResource (artNS + "Opus")
.as( OntClass.class );
can be thankfully reduced to a less insane
OntClass opus = onto.getOntClass (artNS + "Opus");
The reason I wanted this object is that I now can directly test (or ask) for particular subclasses
if (opus.hasSubClass (onto.getOntClass (artNS + "Painting"))) {
or for other interesting things about an OntClass
I was not overly surprised to see that this did not write out
hello subclass
if (opus.hasSubClass (onto.getOntClass (artNS + "MasterPiece")))
.out.println("hello subclass");
For that the
would have to do at least taxonometric reasoning, something I have not yet
turned on.
Taxonometric Reasoning
This also holds true for finding instances. To experiment with these, I could create some like this
onto.createIndividual (artNS + "SunFlowers",
onto.getOntClass (artNS +
or better load them again from a file:
onto.read( "file:paintings.n3", "N3" );
As expected, listing all instances of an
will not reveal much:
for (Iterator
bs = opus.listInstances(); bs.hasNext(); ) {
.out.println("instance " + bs.next().toString());
Actually nothing at all. This makes all sense if you need the ontology as is, i.e. the pure, asserted
As soon as you want to have Jena honor the subclass transitivity you will have to create your
slightly differently in the first place:
OntModel onto = ModelFactory.createOntologyModel(
OntModelSpec.OWL_MEM_MICRO_RULE_INF, null );
from the OntModelSpec
makes Jena use the micro OWL rules
inference engine which seems sufficient for doing that trick, as
for (Iterator
bs = opus.listInstances(); bs.hasNext(); ) {
.out.println("instance " + bs.next().toString());
now returns all instances of
, direct or indirect ones.
Jena provides several more different levels of sophistication regarding reasoning, but I stopped

Real Reasoners
Instead I wanted to test whether a real reasoner would find
to be a
. To set up
this experiment one has to follow the architecture in

To quote the Jena documentation
Applications normally access the inference machinery by using the ModelFactory to associate a
data set with some reasoner to create a new Model. Queries to the created model will return not
only those statements that were present in the original data but also additional statements than
can be derived from the data using the rules or other inference mechanisms implemented by the
So, to get one of these reasoners, the
is the place to go:
Reasoner reasoner = ReasonerRegistry.getOWLMiniReasoner();
To tailor the generic reasoner to the rules of our ontology both have to be combined to create a
new reasoner:
reasoner = reasoner.bindSchema (onto);
To use that together with instance data we have to load that into a separate model:
Model instances = ModelFactory.createDefaultModel();
instances.read ("file:art.n3", "N3");
I also found an alternative way to load such a model by using the
import com.hp.hpl.jena.util.FileManager;
That is actually quite clever as it supports encoding, caching and mapping of URIs to files to
avoid constant dereferencing of documents over the Internet.
Now it is time to duct-tape the reasoner and the instance data together:
InfModel model = ModelFactory.createInfModel (reasoner,
The model is virtual in the sense that it not only contains the triples from the instance data, but
also all inferred ones as mandated by the reasoner. Interestingly enough, any instance data within
object is also honored. In our case we already had loaded instance data there.
As first cautious experiment we walk through the triples. Not all of them, but only those which
emerge from the subject
Resource r = model.getResource (artNS + "VanGogh");
for (StmtIterator sti = model.listStatements(r, null, (RDFNode)
sti.hasNext(); ) {
stmt = sti.nextStatement();
.out.println(" - " + PrintUtil.print(stmt));
To make the
visible, I had to load
import com.hp.hpl.jena.util.*;
first. As output I get exactly what I wanted to see (shortened the URI):
- (#VanGogh #hasPainted #SunFlowers)
- (#VanGogh #hasPainted #TheOldMill)
- (#VanGogh rdf:type #Person)
- (#VanGogh #hasCreated #SunFlowers)
- (#VanGogh #hasCreated #TheOldMill)
- (#VanGogh rdf:type owl:Thing)
- (#VanGogh rdf:type -54b8320:1166309f0d2:-7ffb)
- (#VanGogh rdf:type rdfs:Resource)
- (#VanGogh rdf:type #Genius)
- (#VanGogh owl:sameAs #VanGogh)
Well, at least mostly.
Iterating with a statement template through the whole triple set is not overly comfortable, so let
us try to test the SPARQL support of Jena
. Setting up a query is slightly cumbersome if you are
not conditioned to the usual Java drivel:
import com.hp.hpl.jena.query.*;

QueryExecution qe = QueryExecutionFactory.create (
"SELECT ?opus "+
"WHERE { " +
" <http://www.whatever.com/#VanGogh> " +
" <http://www.whatever.com/#hasCreated>
(I will probably never understand why all the imports have to be at the beginning of the class file
and why Java does not seem to have multi-line strings.)
In any case, the query execution thing can be executed to give a
rs = qe.execSelect();
All elements of this iterator are bindings for SPARQL variables. To access them is quite
for (ResultSet
rs = qe.execSelect() ; rs.hasNext() ; ) {
QuerySolution binding = rs.nextSolution();
.out.println("Opus: " + binding.get("opus"));
And it also returns all the instances, direct or indirect.
More importantly, the reasoner also figured correctly that
is the
, so also the
SPARQL query
SELECT ?person
?person a <http://www.whatever.com/#Genius>
Genius: http://www.whatever.com/#VanGogh
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semantic web

Submitted by rho on Wed, 11/21/2007 - 19:11.
Regarding the iterator

Regarding the iterator business: This really is almost unbearably ugly. I hate writing this sort of
Java code, but often there is no more reasonable way.
Another thing: import in Java is actually a misnomer. It doesn't really import anything, it just
adds another namespace to be searched for class names during compilation. That's all.
Anonymous | Wed, 11/21/2007 - 23:47
Oh, and by the way, I'm Lars

Oh, and by the way, I'm Lars Marius Garshol. I didn't really intend to be anonymous, but I seem
to have no choice.
Anonymous | Wed, 11/21/2007 - 23:48
Re: Anonymous

I switched on Subject: and stuff in Drupal.
rho | Fri, 11/23/2007 - 18:40
Jena 2.5.3 does not return VanGogh as a Genius

I have not been able to get Jena to return VanGogh
as a Genius.
Any idea why this might be? I am using Jene 2.5.3.
Benito (not verified) | Wed, 07/23/2008 - 03:19
Re: Jena 2.5.3 does not return VanGogh as a Genius

I wrote this while testing 2.5.4.
I cannot see anything in the release notes which would affect the behaviour, so I would suspect a
problem with your program.